Wiki discussions 2015-08

User stories

Answer the questions:

  • How would you organise information?
  • Why do you go to the wiki?


  • I need to share processes and check that status of equipment
  • I also need to read up on the processes / user guides because I forget how to do things
  • I have tried to document stuff...but it's difficult to get the content alone right let alone get it on the wiki where it's accessible


  • I'm going to take a punt that the most accessed pages are those relating to the laser cutter and 3D printers.
  • info about tools (how to use it, how to book training, whether it's working &c)
  • info about membership stuff (we don't have much of that iirc)
  • I had another one but I forgot


  • I'd go to the wiki to search for information on the 3D Printer / Laser Cutter / any specifics to a project being looked at
  • Want a wiki that supports Hookers and BlackJack

Just to add some updates

This has the upside of saving the page in wiki code still so that you can edit ether in wysiwig or dokuwiki syntax

  • This plugin supports a bootstrap theme which looks very good on different devices


  • I usually go to the wiki to find information on a specific bit of equipment (most often the 2D printer)
  • I usually type a word into the search box to find things
  • I'd organise things pretty much the way IanN/TBSilver have laid out, using categories for everything and avoiding namespaces

Barry Carter

From email, so excuse the format. I'll come back and tart it up later... Idn (talk) 16:45, 1 September 2015 (BST)

After seeing the debate in the forums, I am very happy you have solicited feedback from everyone else. Thanks

Because I hate the wiki so, here is my feedback via email. Thanks for this, Ian.

I'm not the most active paid member, but previously:-

* I trawl through links upon links to find what I need
* Check up on events
* Use google to search the wiki as the wiki search is 80% useless. To clarify it doesn't have filtering. At least I can manipulate google's tools to include exclude keywords etc.

* To document processes, procedures tools and machine availability.
* Well the wiki seems like a sensible place to start. it also has discussions and rollups of data that I miss because of my schedule. For example this whole debate came about through the wiki itself.

What do you think of the way information is structured:
* There's structure? I jest but in general I can't find things easily.
 ** Example:- the equipment link on the front page is listed under "stuff" I didn't see that. When I do click on it there is an incomplete list of items with no links. I actually can't find a way to get to the laser cutter/3d printer etc from the landing page.

How would you structure information to improve it's accessibility / usability?
* Steal someone else’s structure. The wiki page this is being aggregated on has some great suggestions too. Just pick one. Some structure is better than none.

now, forgive me here, but I am not sure the current debate is addressing the real issues. Here are my thoughts
* All wikis suck. I have tried enough of them to know that whatever you do, its the people who make the structure, not the tech. Sure the tech helps but all we need is some lipstick on this pig.
* The landing page sucks. Really. it doesn't sell what we do, and comes across as a little uninviting. We just need a shiny landing page with some good links on it. Similar to the main www page, but shiner.
* The wiki landing page has information that is probably best served through the main page, such as location and whatnot. This would leave space for links and or images.
* Check out nottinghack. They have a landing page that has a good set of links and also a page for each thing. I can find anything through the links. Let's shoot for at least this level

And lo there was a problem, and the people said "The wiki sucks!"

Bob Spaketh

The 'higher level' plan we have is largely to attempt to fix the structure, layout and usability of the wiki. Software is just one of the things we're looking at as part of that, as we decided it'd probably be easiest because of the low number of pages and number of broken addons and templates we have to move to a new instance of whatever software we use. With that in mind, and since we'd be doing it anyway, we decided to look at other options software wise in case anythign was way better.

Hack the wiki evening


What do you think the structure should be?

IanN & TBSliver (talk)

Categories (and sub categories):

├── Admin
│   ├── Board
│   ├── Hackspace
│   └── Membership
├── Equipment
│   ├── Hand tools
│   ├── Mendel 90
│   └── Mendel Max
├── Guides
└── Projects
    ├── A-Maze-Balls v1
    ├── A-Maze-Balls v2
    └── Frank

It is worth noting that with some of these systems, the categories themselves can/are pages.

Pages (with their categories):

  • User:TBSliver
    • Categories: Members,
  • Mendel 90 Details
    • Categories: Mendel 90,
  • Mendel 90 Guide
    • Categories: Mendel 90, Guides
  • Mendel 90 Maintenance
    • Categories: Mendel 90, Maintenance
  • Mendel Max Details
    • Categories: Mendel Max,
  • Mendel Max Guide
    • Categories: Mendel Max, Guides
  • Mendel Max Maintenance
    • Categories: Mendel Max, Maintenance


Past Updates

Link to show who's been updating the content:

Pdf Export

Currently the demo site I setup won't do pdf exports because of the php setup on the webserver
But I have got it working on my local machine so I've put a copy of the lasercutter (old one) documentation here in pdf form
As an example of setting up books we can export from a bunch of pages with auto generated index


Expanding on the above I'd suggest

├── Equipment
│   ├── Laser Cutter
│         ├── Cutting
│         ├── Design
│         ├── Materials
│         ├── Software
│   ├── Bench Tools
│         ├── Drill Press
│   ├── Digital Manufacturing
│         ├── Proxxon CNC

I've been creating a comparison list between mediawiki and dokuwiki to see the list of differences between the two I've been trying to keep things as fair as possible so I've been looking at both a more modern version of mediawiki and the hacspace wiki Some of the functionality described below may be possible within mediawiki as well with newer plugins etc If we decide to stick with mediawiki, the below may be ideas for plugins to look for at least

Issues Spotted so far

  • Unable to delete pages (may be a security issue)
    • This is due to access rights - you dont have them. TBSliver (talk) 16:33, 27 August 2015 (BST)
      • For info in doku to delete a page you just empty out all of it's text content and save it, old revisions can be recovered just by visiting the link an selecting old revisions garlicbread
        • You can do exactly the same thing in MediaWiki. JMac (talk) 19:18, 27 August 2015 (BST)
          • It must be a permissions problem then, I recently tried to delete a page in the same way I created by accident on mediawiki, but I had to get Bob to delete it instead, since emptying it out wouldn't get rid of it. garlicbread
  • Unable to attach files (may be a security issue)
    • This is due to access rights - you dont have them. TBSliver (talk) 16:33, 27 August 2015 (BST)
    • I seem to have perms now, but the file attachment interface is very very basic compared to what I'm used to. There's a seperate upload page so you can't upload anything directly from the edit page or the page your on. One of the things I'm used to is a js based upload window (media manager) with buttons for alignment / click to insert an image as a link / list all file attachments available to insert / thumbnails etc kind of like a file browser window. Also I think you can't easily overwrite an existing file without first removing the original garlicbread
  • During the hack the wiki day we had a lot of fun and games trying to edit table layouts by adding css tags to the tops of tables to get the alignment to work correctly. (see the lasercutter main page at the top). This sort of thing doesn't seem to crop up on other systems garlicbread
  • This is more of a personal preference thing, but it's really winding me up, in media wiki you can preview via a tab, or the preview button at the bottom. When using the preview button, the editing text box is at the bottom and the preview page is at the top so you have scroll all the way down to get to the edit box again. In doku it's the other way round with the preview at the bottom and the edit box at the top, so it's a lot quicker to get to the edit window. Also the edit window I feel is just better sized (also resizable via js). But that's just a personal preference thing, since it just makes things a bit confusing with big pages
  • I think Taz mentions case sensitivity was an issue with the current setup, in that you can end up with multiple pages such as Laser LAser etc. Pages under doku are all lower case insensitive by default Link


List of Existing Pages on the existing wiki:

Full Plugin list (not all of these will work, but the list is very big)

Ldap Authentication:

Demo Examples:


  • With mediawiki the storage is handled via a backend database
  • with dokuwiki it's a much simpler implementation where each page is stored as a txt file in a directory then cached for view

Visual Appearance

  • Mediawiki seems to take the more minimalist approach, this may be due to the useage within wikipedia
  • dokuwiki seems to have more menu's and shaded borders and buttons
  • Trace list for where you've originated from (top left)
  • Media Manager for an easier way to access file attachements (top right)
  • Auto generated Table of Contents at the top right based on the page content
  • It's possible to edit parts of a page instead of the whole page (editing page sections), making it easier to edit large pages, mediawiki has the same thing, but the edit buttons are located right next to the title, instead of on the bottom right of the section (personal preference of appearance)
  • Exporting pages to pdf's and adding pages to pdf books (each book is defined via a seperate page)
  • Filtered tables (sorted tables is possible in both)


but I'm not sure if it's auto updated with the list of pages on the site in the same way as indexmenu is, seems a bit hacky with having to roll in php

    • This looks like an attempt to force a wiki into a hierarchical layout. MediaWiki pages aren't normally laid out in a hierarchy, and I consider this a great strength. A well maintained list of categories ( should serve as a navigation page if you don't want to use search. JMac (talk) 19:03, 27 August 2015 (BST)
      • Perhaps the problem is no-one wants to maintain the catagories, the treeview sidebar thing I've proposed should be automatic so as each page is added or removed it shows up there. In terms of the layout I do feel a hierarchical layout would be better personally. Wikipedia is very generalised so it makes sense not to have a hierarchy layout there, but most of the info here seems to fall into that type of structure such as equipment, projects root nodes, project or equipment item as subnodes. We could have both types of navigation since doku does support Tags (the same as catagories). But I think limiting navigation to just one type may be unfair to some of those that have indicated that Navigation is a problem (there's more than one of us :) )garlicbread

with indexmenu the sidebar page defines what's seen on the left so it's editable in wiki without having to use php
The sidebar is just a line of wiki syntax, this should allow us to also add other things underneath the menu on the left just by editing the wiki page for it

    • The sidebar page is also just a wiki page in MediaWiki, it's just locked down so most users can't edit it. JMac (talk) 19:03, 27 August 2015 (BST)
      • Okay that makes sense, it's just that when I googled the treeview menu for mediawiki Link It looked like a bit of hacking may be needed to get it into the sidebar. Also I'm unsure if it can be setup to dynamically list all pages in a catagory treeview type of view (to auto add / remove pages as they're added / removed from the wiki) garlicbread
  • There's an option for "backlinks" in doku, which is just a display of all pages that link to the current one
  • doku tag = mediawiki Catagory


without having to edit any php (not true for everything)


  • currently only privlidged users can delete / add attachements in the existing setup
    • This was done due to a hell of a lot of spam in the early days - mostly fixed in the latest incarnation of authentication, so these restrictions can probably be lowered. TBSliver (talk) 16:38, 27 August 2015 (BST)
  • in doku by default everyone logged in can edit / delete / create a page (just empty it's content)
    • how does docuwiki handle history? if some malicious user came in and removed all the pages, can it be undone again easily? TBSliver (talk) 16:38, 27 August 2015 (BST)
      • Yep dokuwiki does have page history / past revisions, example link Link galicbread

If we need to restrict deletion / upload to certain users for given namespaces or pages there's an ACL (Access Control List) Feature in the admin area

  • So it doesnt come with a reasonable access defaults for destructive use? TBSliver (talk) 16:38, 27 August 2015 (BST)
    • By default you have to be logged on to make changes, and it should be possible to lock particular namespaces or pages down to certain groups via acl's, there's also support for user groups I believe so I'm pretty sure you can set it up whichever way is needed galicbread
  • Updating the wiki as a whole and plugins should be a lot easier since it's mostly point and click via the admin menu, it's recommended to take backups before doing that and any config files like mime.local.conf (with local in the name) should remain unaffected. So if seurity updates are a concern these should be easier to do generally speaking (I can't imagine we'd do it that often to be honest)

Eye Candy

Want lots and lots of eye candy please

  • such as? TBSliver (talk) 16:40, 27 August 2015 (BST)
    • See plugins link above Link I won't list them all here but there's plenty to look at such as the wrap plugin for example, or barcode generator, or tags for coloured code formatting, see visual differences above for buttons borders etc garlicbread

I like having a setting that allows users to select they're own theme (I like dark themes, less strain on the eyes)

  • Preferences->Appearance->skin - well volunteered if you want more, just find one and ask parag0n nicely TBSliver (talk) 16:40, 27 August 2015 (BST)

I'd guess there's something similar for mediawiki too, I've already got a nice dark blue one setup on the demo (adoradark blue)

Code Formatting

Both mediawiki and dokuwiki should be able to support this one
but one of the tricks I can do under doku is add a shortcut to something like
<codevb> </codevb> for embedding blocks of VB code with colour formatting (the standard tag is code)
I should be able to do something similar for python <codepy> </codepy>
since short tags are easier to remember than using <syntaxhighlight lang="python">